No Factual Basis to Contamination Lawsuit Against Southwestern Energy Production Company

Oct 12, 2010, 16:15 ET from Southwestern Energy Company

HOUSTON, Oct. 12 /PRNewswire/ -- Southwestern Energy Production Company ("SEPCO"), a subsidiary of Southwestern Energy Company, announced that it has filed its first response to unfounded allegations contained in a lawsuit pending in federal court.  The lawsuit claims that SEPCO's drilling operations in Lenox Township, Pennsylvania, contaminated nearby water wells.

In the motion to dismiss, which was filed today in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania, SEPCO challenges the legal basis for several parts of the complaint. The court will review the motion and the briefs to be filed by the parties and decide how much of the lawsuit will be permitted to proceed. At this stage of the lawsuit, the rules only allow SEPCO to challenge the complaint on legal grounds.

As the case moves forward, SEPCO will have the opportunity to place the facts before the court. The complaint alleges that SEPCO's hydraulic fracturing activities contaminated nearby water wells with barium, manganese and strontium. However, neither the drilling fluids nor the fracturing fluids utilized by SEPCO contained any of these substances. Barium is one of the most common elements in the earth's crust and occurs naturally in many water supplies, which has been noted by both federal and state agencies. An August 2007 report by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services specifically identified Pennsylvania as a state with many communities that "have drinking water where barium content is up to 10 times higher than the Environmental Protection Agency's recommended maximum concentration level." Further, water samples from the area taken prior to the commencement of SEPCO's drilling operations indicated barium readings in excess of federal and state limits.

"SEPCO takes very seriously its obligation to operate safely and is committed to working with the governmental agencies and local communities to ensure that our operations do not adversely impact the environment near our work sites," says Mark Boling, Executive Vice President and General Counsel of Southwestern Energy. "We have worked with the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection with respect to our operations in Lenox Township in order to confirm that our operations were not the source of any concern and that people residing in close proximity to our work sites had safe water to use."

"We are concerned that lawyers for the plaintiffs in this lawsuit are making statements in the media that we believe are demonstrably wrong.  The allegations in this lawsuit are serious, and the parties should make their cases in court with accurate, scientific evidence rather than in the press with statements that have no support in any evidence SEPCO has seen."

Southwestern Energy Company is an integrated company whose wholly-owned subsidiaries are engaged in oil and gas exploration and production, natural gas gathering and marketing. Additional information on the company can be found on the Internet at

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